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California has many laws and regulations applicable to both residential Landlords and Tenants.

Please review the following issues related to you as a landlord or tenant:

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: 2 month’s rent for unfurnished dwellings; 3 month’s rent if furnished dwellings. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5g).
  • Security Deposit Interest: No state-wide statute, but 15 (or so) localities have rent control ordinances that require you to pay interest, including Los Angeles (reference).
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No Statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Non-Refundable Fees: Not Allowed (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5m)
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 21 days (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g)
  • Security Deposit can be withheld for: (handbook)

  • For unpaid rent;
  • For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
  • For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests; and
  • If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.

  • Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes. Landlord is also required to give advanced notice of deductions prior to the actual withholding. Receipts and documentation not needed to accompany the itemized list of repairs if repairs and cleaning cost less than $125. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g 4A)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: Unless there is a contract to the contrary, and the lease is for less than 1 year, rent is due at the end of the month. Most leases state that rent is due at the beginning of the month. (Civ. Code §§ 1947) and (Civ. Code §§ 1962)
  • Rent Increase Notice: 30 days if rent increase is less than 10% of the lowest amount of rent charged during the last 12 months. 60 days if rent increase is more than 10% of the lowest amount of rent charged during the last 12 months. (Civ. Code §§ 1946)
  • Late Fees: Allowed, but they must be “reasonable”, and obey rent control laws, and are only enforceable if specified in the lease. (handbook)
  • Prepaid Rent: Landlord is allowed to collect 1-month’s pre-paid rent (first month’s rent) + 2 or 3 month’s security deposit (handbook)
  • Returned Check Fees: Equal to the actual bank fee. Or, landlord can charge a flat “service” fee which is $25 for the first occurrence, and $35 for each occurrence thereafter (handbook)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, because the property is under the “implied warranty of habitability” (handbook)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, but not more than the cost of 1 month’s rent, and tenant cannot use this remedy more than twice in a 12-month period (Civ. Code §§ 1942)
  • Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 789.3d)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 1951.2)

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: Landlord is required to give 60 days notice. (handbook)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: Landlord is required to give 30 days notice. Tenant is required to give 30 days notice. (Civ. Code §§ 1946)
  • Notice to Terminate a Lease – Week-to-week: Landlord is required to give 30 days notice. Tenant is required to give 7 days notice. (handbook)
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: 48 Hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 3 days (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(2))
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: 3 days to remedy lease violation or landlord can file eviction (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(3)). Landlord can also terminate the lease for subletting without permission or illegal activity on the premise. (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(4))
  • Required Notice before Entry: 24 Hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): 24 Hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 1954b)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No (Civ. Code §§ 1954)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (Civ. Code §§ 789.3b(1))
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (Civ. Code §§ 789.3a)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Copy of Lease: Provide a copy of the rental agreement or lease to the tenant within 15 days of its execution by the tenant. (Civ. Code §§ 1962(4))
  • Utilities: Landlord must disclose if utilities that service tenant’s unit also service other areas (such as common foyers), and disclose the manner in which costs will be fairly divided up. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.9) Landlord must also provide a formula for dividing up utilities when utilities are split among multiple tenants.
  • San Francisco Utilities: Landlords must provide heat that can maintain a room temperature of 68 degrees. This level of heat must be provided for at least thirteen hours, specifically from 5:00 – 11:00 AM and 3:00 – 10:00 PM.
  • Move-In Condition: Landlord is not required to provide a Move-In Condition Checklist for the Tenants to complete. Although, it is recommended and extremely helpful should you ever go to court over physical damages to the dwelling.
  • Mold: Landlord must disclose, prior to lease signing, the knowledge of any mold in the dwelling that exceeds safety limits, or poses a health concern. Landlord must distribute a State Department of Health Services consumer handbook (Health & Safety Code §§ 26147)
  • Demolishment: If a landlord, or agent, has applied for a permit to demolish a rental unit, the landlord must provide written notice to prospective tenants before accepting any money. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.6)
  • Ordinances: Landlord must disclose the locations of former ordinances in the neighborhood (Civ. Code §§ 1940.7)
  • Sexual Offenders: Landlords are required to include the following language in the lease: “Notice: Pursuant to Section 290.46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Web site maintained by the Department of Justice at Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and zip code in which he or she resides.” (Civ. Code §§ 2079.10a)
  • Pests Disclosures: At lease signing, Landlord must disclose any pests control contracts or disclosures received by pest control companies. If the premise is being treated for pests, landlord must disclose the pesticides used and their active ingredients, and any warnings associated with them. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.8, and Business and Professional Code §§ 8538)
  • Smoking: If the landlord limits or prohibits smoking, landlord must include a clause that specifies the areas on or in the premise that smoking is prohibited. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.5)
  • Proof of Domestic Violence Status: Landlord is entitled to proof/documentation of domestic violent status of the tenant if the tenant claims they are a victim. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.5, 1941.6, 1941.7)
  • Locks: Landlords must change the locks if requested by a domestic violence victim and proof of court order is given. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.5 & 1941.6)
  • Special Treatment: A victim may terminate a lease with 30 days notice, and proof of victim status. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.7) A landlord cannot end or refuse to renew your tenancy based upon the fact that you or a member of your household is a victim of a documented act of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161.3)
  • Abandoned Property: The rules are lengthy and specific, please read Civ. Code §§ 1965, 1980 to 1991
  • Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, been involved in a tenant’s organization, or exercised a legal right. Courts will assume “retaliation” by landlord if negative action is taken on the tenant within 180 days (6 months) after any of the prior tenant actions. (Civ. Code §§ 1942.5) It will also be considered retaliation if the landlord acts negatively within 6 months after any of the following:

  • Using the repair and deduct remedy, or telling the landlord that the tenant will use the repair and deduct remedy.
  • Complaining about the condition of the rental unit to the landlord, or to an appropriate public agency after giving the landlord notice.
  • Filing a lawsuit or beginning arbitration based on the condition of the rental unit.
  • Causing an appropriate public agency to inspect the rental unit or to issue a citation to the landlord.


Is all rental property in Los Angeles subject to rent control?
No. With a few exceptions, rental property in Los Angeles is subject to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (Rent Control) if: The property is in the city of Los Angeles, AND there are 2 or more rental units on the property, AND the property was built (or certificate of occupancy issued) before November of 1978.

What cities in Southern California have rent control?
Beverly Hills - Rent Control Hotline (310) 285-1031 Los Angeles – Rent Control Hotline (800) 994-4444 Santa Monica – Rent Control Hotline (310) 458-8751 West Hollywood. – Rent Control Hotline (323) 848-6450 3550WilshireBlvd.,Suite1500 Los Angeles, CA 90010

How do I find out if my property is supposed to be under Los Angeles rent control?
1. Go to the Rent Stabilization office at 3550 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1500 Los Angeles, CA 90010 between 8:00 a.m.and 4:00 p.m, Monday through Friday.

What are the primary benefits of being under rent control?
1. The landlord can only raise your rent a certain percentage per year (3% to 4% ussually). The landlord has to give you a 30-day notice of the intended rent increase. In addition, you can only be evicted for causes listed in the ordinance. 2. The landlord can only evict the tenant for the causes listed in the statute. 3. The eviction notice has to be very specific, giving, in the case of a nuisance, dates, times, places and witnesses to the nuisance. 4. If the landlord is trying to evict tenant for nonpayment of rent, s/he cannot bring the eviction if, at the time the 3-day notice to pay or quit was given, the property was not registered with rent control. 5. The landlord can’t change the terms of the tenancy to “no pets” and then evict a tenant for having a pet which the tenant had before the new policy went into effect. The tenant gets to keep the old pet, even if tenant may not be able to get a new one.

I live in a house that is rented to different people. Am I covered by rent control?
It depends. If you live in a house where you rent a room, share kitchen facilities with others, and have access to the entire house, you are probably NOT covered by rent control. If you live in a house which is divided so each person has his/her own entrance, mail address and Ann has to go outside the house and knock on a door to get to Barbara’s apartment, it probably IS under rent control. You probably need to talk to an attorney about this. Of course, if you go to Rent Stabilization and it has been registered in the past, it probably is still subject to the rent control laws.

For what reasons can the landlord evict me under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance?
1. Nonpayment of rent 2. Tenant violated a covenant (rule or requirement) of the rental agreement 3. Tenant is creating or allowing a nuisance – something that is harmful to the health or safety of others. 4. Tenant using the unit for an illegal purpose 5. Tenant had a written rental agreement and then refused to sign anew agreement which is similar to the old agreement. 6. Tenant refused access to the landlord to make repairs or show the unit to prospective buyers, renters or lenders. 7. Illegal subtenant at the end of a lease term. 8. Landlord wants the unit for his/her child, spouse or parent or resident manager. 9. Landlord wants to demolish or do high cost remodeling work on the building which would require the tenant to leave for 45 days. 10. Landlord wants to remove the rental from housing use. 11. Landlord is trying to comply with an agency’s order to vacate the building.
IMPORTANT!! If the landlord is evicting you for reasons 8, 9, 10 or 11 above, s/he may have to pay you relocation of up to $19,000. above, s/he may have to pay you relocation of up to $19,000.

Does the landlord always have to pay relocation?
No. As previously stated, the landlord does not have to pay relocation if s/he is evicting you for reasons 1 – 7 above, since these are “for cause” reasons. The landlord does not have to pay relocation if the unit is not subject to the rent control ordinance. The landlord also does not have to pay relocation if the landlord is evicting to replace a resident manager with another resident manager or when the tenant received actual written notice before entering into a rental agreement that the City had approved an application to subdivide the property or convert the building to a condominium or community apartment project.